Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown today called for community participation in the process of developing a referendum to recognise and protect local government, calling on Tasmanians to attend tonight's meeting in Launceston to have their say.
"Previous attempts, in 1974 and 1988, to have the status of local government recognised through a referendum failed because of the confusing questions put to voters. This time, the process is supported by an expert panel that will meet with the community in Launceston tonight to seek their input," Senator Brown said.
"The panel, headed by the Hon. James Spigelman AC QC, appointed in June and due to report back by the end of the year, provides an opportunity to feed into the referendum process and is a direct result of the agreement the Greens signed with the Government last year," Senator Brown said.
"Local government needs to be able to call on federal government support in times of crisis and needs legal certainty to protect any direct grants. Without change, direct federal to local government funding such as that secured by the Greens in Treasurer Wayne Swan's economic stimulus package - for bicycle pathways, energy retro-fitting, water re-use and tree planting - would be in jeopardy."
Senator Brown, a member of the expert panel, will attend the community meeting at the Launceston Town Hall. The meeting follows similar events in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia and builds on the efforts of local councils over many years to be recognised in the Constitution.
The Agreement with the Gillard government signed on 1 September 2010 included the following goal:
f) Hold referenda during the 43rd Parliament or at the next election on Indigenous constitutional recognition and recognition of local government in the Constitution.